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excerpt from the Interview with SISTER RACHEL TATARYN


Teacher – Principal

Date and Place of Birth: 1936 in Sydney, Nova Scotia

Date of Interview: June 13, 2017

Place of Interview: Toronto, Ontario

Interviewer: Zoriana Kilyk

Length of Interview: 00:51:05 (raw)


Interviewer: Did you attend any Ukrainian Saturday schools?

Sister RT: Fortunately, for 10 years – those were crucial years for me because I was just growing up – the sisters that I had entered into, came to Sydney, they spent 10 years there. They taught Ukrainian, they taught Catechism and Ridna Shkola, we didn’t have “kursy” [courses. That’s where we learned. Then some immigrants came after, like Steve Harasowsky, he’s gone for his reward right now, but I was the youngest in his choir, because I liked to sing. We had a famous director of Ukrainian dancing, Paul Yavorsky, and he liked the place and he liked the people so he stayed for a while. He inspired other people to learn and to teach. And we still have people at home that will gather at certain times and teach the children. But we were the forgotten ones because we were out East. I always tell people that all the Ukrainians came to Canada via Halifax. But, if we didn’t like them we told them to go on. We only kept the good ones in the East. But if you know our history, it’s amazing how we kept everything because of the people that decided to stay there. And why did they stay? Because of the steel plant, it was a place to work. I mean, they’d put in a shift at the plant and they’d come and help build the church. You know?

There was one lady, she lived next door to us, she was a very robust woman, and her husband was not a short guy, listened to her. And he was out on the dzvynitsia [bell tower], and she said: “Василю, як ти впадеш, я тебе забю!” [“Wasyl, if you fall, I’ll kill you!”]. And I said, Uh, I think he’d be dead by then. But that’s how they worked. They put their shift in, they came and built the church. And then when they had it, they cleaned it. There were no janitors. The ladies were scrubbing the church once and being next door to the church of course, my mother was there and she’s scrubbing away with everybody else and she says, “Куди мій пес, не прийшов?” [Where’s my dog, isn’t he here?”]. And somebody says, “Дивіться на хори” [“Look up at the choir balcony”]. And there was the dog watching them all.

So, it was our church, so we cleaned it, you know what I mean? There was ownership there. And that makes a big difference. Now, we don’t go to church but we sail in there when we want to get a wedding or we want to get buried, you know, at big times. But, for the people in Sydney, it was their church, and they kept it very well.


• Sister Rachel Tataryn's brother, Right Reverend John Tataryn, was interviewed by Sophia Isajiw on July 15, 2016 for the Oral History of Ukrainian Canada (OHUC) project. UCRDC File #401 (Video).

• Sister Rachel Tataryn, Founding Principal, St. Demetrius Catholic School: School History and Tradition (photo)

The interviews can be accessed at the UCRDC. Please contact us at: office@ucrdc.org